Making the Move to a Retirement Community

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Making the Move to a Retirement CommunityIt was while attending Johns Hopkins University for graduate school that Anne and Bertram Wyatt-Brown first met. Not only were they both focused on careers in teaching, but they soon learned they shared many other interests, such as writing and music. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that they were on the same page when recently making decisions for their future in a retirement community.

Over the years, the Wyatt-Browns traveled a great deal teaching at different institutions. After beginning their careers at Colorado State in Fort Collins, Colo., they later went to University of Colorado in Boulder and spent 17 years at Case Western Reserve in Cleveland, Oh. They eventually transferred to the University of Florida, where they taught for 21 years. In addition, the couple also spent part of their careers in Princeton, University of Wisconsin, University of Richmond and William & Mary. Anne and Bertram also had a daughter, who now lives in St. Paul, Minn., along with two grandchildren.

Despite their many moves, it was never a question for the couple as to where they would spend their future. They left Florida to return home to Baltimore, where they had their sights set on eventually moving to Roland Park Place based on its convenient location and the positive experiences of Anne’s parents there.

Although Anne was initially hesitant about the physical aspects of the move, health issues and the difficulty of navigating and maintaining their three-level house had prompted the couple to seriously think about the transition to maintain their busy lifestyle.

“Baltimore is home for me; my family is here,” said Anne. “The reason we ended up at Roland Park Place is my parents lived here and I had no intention of going to the county. As far as I was concerned it was the city or forget it, and it had to be the neighborhood.”

Having several friends and relatives needing care in a variety of elder care settings over the years had made the couple see the value of a Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC). They appreciated the fact that they would be able to remain connected to their friends on the campus even if their health needs were to change.

Anne also liked the improvements she had seen at Roland Park Place since her parents were living there. Among those big differences was a list of resources compiled by the staff to help ease the transition and a complimentary floor plan design consultation for future residents.

To further ensure a stress-free move, Anne and Bertram decided to hire a firm that could provide senior move management services. They selected Senior Transitions, Inc., an organization owned and operated by Charna Kinneberg. Senior Transitions, Inc. is a well established company. Charna is one of the founding members of the National Association of Senior Move Managers (NASMM).

With so many decisions to make about what to take, the couple really appreciated a software program that Senior Transitions, Inc. used that mapped out their new floor plan with their existing furniture and possessions. According to Charna, the program allows clients to immediately see their plans and what will or will not work in their new space.

“You could really see what it was going to look like,” said Anne.

Charna then provided her guidance to assist the couple in sorting through their belongings and getting rid of or donating different pieces of furniture.

“I coach my clients to focus on what we want to keep, not what they are getting rid of. It really helps with the decision making process,” she said.

Understanding just how important their tremendous book collection and academic libraries were to the Wyatt-Browns, Charna made certain to identify appropriate space for as many bookcases as possible. The couple was pleasantly surprised at how many bookcases could actually fit. Also realizing that Anne and Bertram needed space for their own computers, she incorporated a desk for each of them in the design.

“My goal is to keep as many of the most treasured items as possible while maintaining a safe environment,” said Charna.

Although Anne is often questioned how she could give up so many pieces of furniture, she said, “A lot of our furniture was handed down to us, and to be able to give it to people who want it and who will someday give it to somebody else I think is wonderful.”

For the official moving day, Senior Transitions, Inc. brought in a crew to manage and facilitate the move. “They were very efficient and fun to be around,” said Bertram. “They made it a pleasure . . . they were just great.”

Anne continued, “They had terrific ideas for pictures, and once they put the pictures up, it made it ours and just transformed the place. They are really gifted in figuring out where to put things and I am in awe of their skill.”

With the move behind them, the Wyatt-Browns are eager to get involved with programs at their new home as they continue the activities they are most passionate about.

One of these lifelong pursuits for the couple is writing. While Anne is an author as well as the co-editor of a gerontological-style journal, Bertram has written twelve books and is a visiting scholar at Johns Hopkins. “I go to seminars sometimes and get revved up about that,” he said.

Music is another passion they have shared. Anne, who started in the Glee Club at Bryn Mawr when she was 14, had dreamed of attending Radcliffe College and joining its Chorale Society after hearing them in concert. Not only did she accomplish this goal, but she also became the group’s manager and has since continued to sing in different chorales and churches.

“Everywhere we have gone, I have sung in a group,” she said. “We had 10 moves, and every time, we would join a church and join the choir.” That carries through today as the couple sings in the choir at the Cathedral of the Incarnation which is right down the street from their home.

Most importantly, Anne and Bertram have enjoyed getting to know the individuals at the community. They have been very impressed with how outgoing the staff and residents are and are pleased that there are other “academics” living at Roland Park Place.

“The facilities are great and we plan to make good use of them, but it’s the kindness of people that really makes a difference,” said Anne.

As they meet new individuals, however, they will never forget the people who played a pivotal role in helping them get settled into their new home. No matter their daily pursuits, the Wyatt-Browns know they have beautiful and comfortable surroundings to return to thanks to Senior Transitions, Inc.

“They were terrific, we have nothing but praise for Charna and her group,” said Bertram.

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